The authors describe a design approach, called 2-D entropy-constrained subband coding (ECSBC), based upon recently developed 2-D entropy-constrained vector quantization (ECVQ) schemes. The output indexes of the embedded quantizers are further compressed by use of noiseless entropy coding schemes, such as Huffman or arithmetic codes, resulting in variable-rate outputs. Depending upon the specific configurations of the ECVQ and the ECPVQ over the subbands, many different types of SBC schemes can be derived within the generic 2-D ECSBC framework. Among these, the authors concentrate on three representative types of 2-D ECSBC schemes and provide relative performance evaluations. They also describe an adaptive buffer instrumented version of 2-D ECSBC, called 2-D ECSBC/AEC, for use with fixed-rate channels which completely eliminates buffer overflow/underflow problems. This adaptive scheme achieves performance quite close to the corresponding ideal 2-D ECSBC system.